Category Archives: Human Rights

Daily Headline – 02/04/13

Support the troops!

Iraq war flagUS and UK troops are always in the press it seems for the wrong reasons, the constant abuses carried out be these representatives of their respective countries.

Support the troops? Support abuses.

It has long been known of the human-rights abuses carried out by the US and UK at Camp Nama in Baghdad but now for the first time two UK military personnel have spoken out to the Guardian about the abuses they personally witnessed.

The abuses they say they saw include:

• Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.

• Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.

• Prisoners being routinely hooded.

• Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.

For full details on the story click here.

Iraq; an illegal war carried out by thugs under the orders of callus morons.

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The Zapatistas

By Anton

We don’t want to impose our solutions by force, we want to create a democratic space. We don’t see armed struggle in the classic sense of previous guerrilla wars, that is as the only way and the only all-powerful truth around which everything is organized. In a war, the decisive thing is not the military confrontation but the politics at stake in the confrontation. We didn’t go to war to kill or be killed. We went to war in order to be heard.
Subcomandante Marcos

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This is a quote from the spokesperson of the EZLN- The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional).

I will refer to them as either the Zapatistas or the EZLN in this article.

Let us begin

History

The Zapatistas went public on January 1, 1994, the day when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. On that day, they issued their First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle and their Revolutionary Laws. The declaration was that of war on the Mexican government, which was so out of touch with those it was meant to govern, that the Zapatistas declared it illegitimate.

Their original goal was to instigate a revolution in all of Mexico, but as this failed, they used their uprising as a platform to call the world’s attention to their movement to protest the signing of NAFTA, which the EZLN believed would increase the gap between rich and poor people in Chiapas (southern Mexico, where the Zapatistas are based) – one that has sadly become true.

On the morning of January 1, 1994, an estimated 3,000 armed Zapatista insurgents seized towns and cities in Chiapas, including Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Huixtán, Oxchuc, Rancho Nuevo, Altamirano, and Chanal. They freed the prisoners in the jail of San Cristóbal de las Casas, and torched several police buildings and military barracks in the area. The guerrillas enjoyed brief success, but the next day Mexican army forces counter-attacked and fierce fighting broke out in and around the market of Ocosingo. The Zapatista forces took heavy casualties, and retreated from the city into the surrounding jungle.

This is where the strategy changed.

Due to the failure of the Mexican Government to capture the Comandantes of the EZLN, they took up a policy of negotiation.
The Zapatistas changed tactics to mobilisation and a media campaign through numerous newspaper comunicados.

On June 28, 2005, the Zapatistas presented the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, declaring their principles and vision for Mexico and the world. This declaration reiterates the support for the indigenous peoples, who comprise roughly one third of the population of the state of Chiapas, and extends the cause to include “all the exploited and dispossessed of Mexico”. It also expresses the movement’s sympathy to the international alter-globalization movement, and offers to provide material aid to those in Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and elsewhere, with whom they make common cause. The declaration ends with an exhortation for all who have more respect for humanity than for money to join with the Zapatistas in the struggle for social justice both in Mexico and abroad. The declaration called for an alternative national campaign (the “Other Campaign”) as an alternative to the presidential campaign. In preparation for this alternative campaign, the Zapatistas invited to their territory over 600 national leftist organizations, indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations in order to listen to their claims for human rights in a series of biweekly meetings that culminated in a plenary meeting on September 16, the day Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain.

The most recent campaign was when the Zapatistas marched through the streets on the 22nd of December, one day after the start of the new Mayan calendar. They marched, all in balaclavas, in complete silence.

Ideology

The Zapatistas have an ideology that can only be described as libertarian socialism. The Zapatista slogan is that of mutual aid, formulated by Peter Kropotkin, the ‘inventor’ of anarchist communism:
“For everyone, everything. For us, nothing” (Para todos todo, para nosotros nada).
The EZLN opposes economic globalization, arguing that it severely and negatively affects the peasant way of life of its indigenous support base and oppressed people worldwide.

The Zapatista controlled areas are ran on a bottom-up democracy system, similar to soviet democracy, limiting public servants’ terms to only two weeks, not using visible organization leaders, and constantly referring to the people they are governing for major decisions, strategies and conceptual visions.

“my real commander is the people”
Subcomandante Marcos

Unlike other ‘revolutionary’ movements like FARC and shining path, the EZLN, before their uprising in 1994 explicitly defined a right of the people to resist any unjust actions of the EZLN. They also defined a right of the people to:

demand that the revolutionary armed forces not intervene in matters of civil order or the disposition of capital relating to agriculture, commerce, finances, and industry, as these are the exclusive domain of the civil authorities, elected freely and democratically.
“The people should acquire and possess arms to defend their persons, families and property, according to the laws of disposition of capital of farms, commerce, finance and industry, against the armed attacks committed by the revolutionary forces or those of the government.”

Subcomandante Marcos

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The following information comes from the documentary ‘a place called Chiapas’
As a young man, Subcommander Marcos was politically radicalized by the Tlatelolco massacre (2 October 1968) of students and civilians by the Mexican federal government; consequently, he became a militant in the Maoist National Liberation Forces. In 1983, he went to the mountains of Chiapas to convince the poor, indigenous Maya population to organize and launch a proletarian revolution against the Mexican bourgeoisie and the federal government. After hearing his proposition, the Chiapanecs “just stared at him”, and replied that they were not urban workers, that, from their perspective, the land was not property, but the heart of the communities.

Imagine a person who comes from an urban culture. One of the world’s biggest cities, with a university education, accustomed to city life. It’s like landing on another planet. The language, the surroundings are new. You’re seen as an alien from outer space. Everything tells you: “Leave. This is a mistake. You don’t belong in this place”; and it’s said in a foreign tongue. But they let you know, the people, the way they act; the weather, the way it rains; the sunshine; the earth, the way it turns to mud; the diseases; the insects; homesickness. You’re being told. “You don’t belong here”. If that’s not a nightmare, what is?

Marcos’ political philosophy is often characterized as Marxist and his populist writing, which concentrates on unjust treatment of people by both business and the State, underlines some of the commonalities the Zapatista ideology shares with Libertarian Socialism and Anarchism.

When asked about whether he is worried about the risk of assassination, he relied with this:

“We don’t fear to die struggling. The good word has already been planted in fertile soil. This fertile soil is in the heart of all of you, and it is there that Zapatista dignity flourishes.”

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You can find many interviews with Marcos on you tube. I recommend checking them out.

Daily Headline – 29/03/13

Turkey deporting Syrian refugees

unhcrThe UN are looking into reports that Turkey has deported up to 600 Syrian refugees from a relief camp.

Officials at the site said the deportations happened but the Turkish government denies this.

Two days ago a protest was sparked off at the camp following the death of a teenager caused by Turkish incompetence as a power line failed and set fire to a tent.

Daily Headline – 28/03/13

UK Home Office fighting to deport rape and torture victim

Odette Sefuko protestAsylum seeker Odette Sefuko has been given an extension on her stay in the UK while DNA tests are undertaken to establish her nationality.

She and the UN claim she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but the UK’s Home Office claims she is Ugandan.

If she is Ugandan, she will be deported, if she is from the DRC she will be granted asylum.

Odette Sefuko was an anti-rape campaigner in the DRC where her family were murdered and she was raped and tortured and the UK wants to send her back.

Her case drew protests in Sheffield, where she was being held and support from Sheffield’s Labour MP Paul Blomfield.

The UN has labeled the DRC the rape capital of the world.

Daily Headline – 22/03/13

UN; human rights political ploy over North Korea

Korean WarYes, another North Korea post! It’s not our obsession but things are extremely tense on the Korean peninsula and there is a lot of media attention.

This time the United Nations (UN) has voted to investigate North Korean human rights abuses.
No, this is not a joke. For over 65 years North Korea has been abusing the human rights of its citizens but for some reason the UN has decided now would be a good time to investigate.

The fact that North Korea and the US seem to be gearing up for military confrontation is surely just a coincidence that the UN has made this decision… I think not.

Does the UN need political motivation before it starts investigating and taking action against human rights abuses? If so then surely it’s not fit for purpose!

The BBC reports:
“UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the UN had evidence indicating that North Korea’s political prisons held around 200,000 people, with many subjected to rape, torture and slave labour.”

So the UN can tell when North Korea develops nuclear warheads underground but only now has been able to tell that human rights are being abused? Disgraceful.

UN Human-rights

There are 30 ‘articles‘ of human rights, how many are North Korea abusing?

Of course without proof and evidence it is hard to say but I suspect the violations would include:

Article 2
Article 3
Article 5
Article 9
Article 11
Article 12
Article 13
Article 18
Article 19
Article 20
Article 23

So that’s 11 violations out of 30.

Daily Headline – 11/03/13

Party conference goes bad for Nick Clegg

Lib Dem Nick CleggMP candidate Jo Shaw and prominent human-rights lawyer Dinah Rose QC have resigned from the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems).

The pair resigned following yesterdays Lib Dem party conference due to Nick Clegg’s endorsement of the Conservative ‘secret courts’ legislation.

Only 7 Lib Dem MPs supported the ‘justice and security’ safeguard amendments out of 57.

The safeguards to the bill were defeated 226 (in favour) to 297 (against).

Apart from the 7 Lib Dems the amendments were mostly supported by Labour and of course the Green’s Caroline Lucas.

Without these safeguards to the Justice and Security bill anyone can be tortured and abused and then tried in a secret court, without justice or liberty.

Every day/week/month/year that the coalition of Lib Dems and Conservatives remain in power civil liberties and equality in the UK get eroded away. Be it with the privatisation on the National Health Service (NHS), unregulated finance sector, welfare cuts, cost of living increases, attacks on democracy or anything else.

The Lib Dems, the Conservatives and even Labour offer nothing for the majority of the UK. The electorate needs to wake up and make the change, the power is in the hands of the people, we need to make it happen.

Aside from the arguments of electoral reform leading to real people power there are many progressive parties in the UK, here are some of them (though of course some of them could be argued as not being progressive):

Green Party of England & Wales

RESPECT

Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition

Socialist Alliance

Scottish Greens

Daily Headline – 04/03/13

UK; ditch human rights

British tory flagOnce again the Conservative party, currently in government in the UK are attacking the vulnerable in society.

This time they say they want to repeal the Human Rights laws and the European Court for Human Rights if the get elected at the next General election.

While election for the tories is unlikely (at least out-rightly) this attitude should have alarm bells ringing in the UK electorates ears. Their callous behaviour and complete disregard for the vulnerable in society and the working class, those who are more likely to be victims of human rights abuse.

It begs the question, why would anyone want to do this? When other countries ignore human rights we think of dictatorships and brutal regimes, is that what the UK has coming under a Conservative future?

If you’re not wealthy, the coalition doesn’t care about you, so stop voting for them!